September 19, 2018

Minister sends letter to Batang Toru hydroelectric company

( - Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has sent a letter (Sep 14) to PT NSHE, the company responsible for North Sumatra’s Batang Toru hydroelectric power project, asking it to create an addendum as a form of corrective action to its environmental impact assessment (AMDAL) document.

The minister arrived at the conclusion behind the letter primarily because the AMDAL document is not yet comprehensive in addressing issues surrounding the existence and protection of the Tapanuli orangutan and its habitat.

The minister’s letter also requests that the company coordinate with the ministry’s monitoring team to jointly monitor the habitat and conditions of the Tapanuli orangutan at the site of the hydroelectric power project.

For this purpose, Minister Siti Nurbaya has asked PT NSHE to immediately provide implementing guidance concerning the supervision of the impact of infrastructure development on wildlife, especially the Tapanuli orangutan. This guidance must be provided within no longer than one month. 

The minister also appealed for the company to build posts to monitor the movement of individual Tapanuli orangutans which have been forced out and subsequently isolated in community plantations, progress of which is to be reported to the ministry's monitoring team.

Below are new photos (Sep 16-17) showing the nests of three orangutans compelled to move due to the impact of the ongoing hydroelectric power project's development. These continue to be observed by the ministry's monitoring team on a daily basis. 

Four plans 

Minister Siti Nurbaya also asked PT NSHE to make four plans related to her efforts to ensure that the Tapanuli orangutan does not go extinct because of changes in its habitat resulting from the hydroelectric project's development.

The first plan requested in the minister's letter is for the creation of Tapanuli orangutan corridors that connect the west and east blocks of the Batang Toru Ecosystem, with a deadline for completion of no later than two months. 

Meanwhile, the second plan to be prepared by the company, as stated in the letter, is for the enrichment of the Tapanuli orangutan's food sources in the Bulumario community plantation, as a way of linking the Batang Toru forest block with the Dolok Sibual Buali Nature Reserve, again with a deadline of no later than two months.

Plan three pertains to the discovery of the three new nests in the community plantations by the ministry's monitoring team, the minister telling the company in her letter to make a rescue plan with a deadline of no later than one month.

The fourth plan, which the minister asks to be implemented in no longer than two weeks, requires that local communities also be involved in the protection and saving of the Tapanuli orangutan.

The letter in question was signed by the Ministry's Director General of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation Wiratno on behalf of the Environment and Forestry Minister. The letter also asked that the company report the overall progress of the plans specified within it to the Director General.